Saturday, March 13, 2010

There was little optimism in the Bulgarian camp after learning their next opponent. Even the usual the usual nonsense about long haired, expensive spoiled lackeys of capitalism, blind to exploitation, and serving wrong cause was spared. The tone was ‘objective’ – Ajax were the better team, but CSKA were to play their best anyway and with a bit of luck… but luck played no part on the pitch. Ajax were light years ahead of CSKA and effortlessly won both legs – 3-1 in Sofia and 3-0 in Amsterdam. What I remember is the invisibility of the Bulgarians: everywhere massive numbers of Dutch players and hardly anyone with red shirt. It was as if only one team was on the pitch. Ajax were simply playing different football and most of Europe was lagging far behind, looking outdated and hopeless.
Just about the only parity existed in handshake between Penev and Cruiff before the match started.
Illusionary parity: Cruiff and Penev looking for the ball. There was no real duel … Cruiff was more than a step ahead. Years later both coached Christo Stoichkov.